South Carolina Grassroots Conservatives – Something Old, Something New

TedCruz_at_2015SCTPCThe South Carolina Tea Party Coalition gathered last weekend in Myrtle Beach, and there was never a dull moment.  All the leading right-wing organizations were there, including the Tea Party Patriots, Freedom Works, the Heritage Foundation, the Tea Party Leadership Fund, and Americans for Prosperity.  Contenders for the 2016 presidential race made stump speeches.  Senators and congressmen tossed red meat to the hungry throngs.

The event sold out, skewering the notion that the Tea Party is in decline.   Conservative celebrities lined up to participate.  I have been attending events like this for a long time, and let me tell you – these people are more fired up than ever.

Some things haven’t changed.  Barack Obama remains the target of the Tea Party’s ire, and the conservative faithful are more baffled than ever that so many Americans are still oblivious to the damage he continues to inflict on our nation.  And the Tea Party is still an army of mostly gray-haired, fair-skinned grandmas and grandpas.

Yet the Tea Party and the conservative movement continues to evolve.

Lately the grassroots conservatives are as angry at Republicans as they are at arch-rival liberal Democrats.  They stood and cheered as speaker after speaker exhorted them to “hold the Republicans in DC accountable.”  Congressmen Louie Gohmert, Jim Bridenstine and Jeff Duncan got standing O’s specifically to thank them for their anti-Boehner votes.  Still, Rep. Mick Mulvaney came out guns blazing in defense of his vote for the Speaker, and scored some points.

Minorities continue to gain in numbers and in comfort level in Tea Party circles.  While they have always been warmly welcomed by the Tea Party, African American and Hispanic conservatives no longer feel conspicuous and are taking a significant leadership role.

A fairly large contingent of young conservatives also attended.  One of the most compelling presentations came from Lauren Cooley of Turning Point USA.   Cooley, a striking and very hip young lady, is winning high school and college students over to the conservative side at a wholesale clip.  She single-handedly shut down the gender-studies department and its series of obscene programs at Furman University, and handed attendees to a Jesse Jackson event a list of unflattering direct quotes by him, standing her ground in a confrontation with the embarrassed sponsors.  Her charges carry the pithy message, “Big Government Sucks”, and in growing numbers they understand and articulate the abuses heaped on young Americans by their government in recent years.

But the biggest change in the conservative movement is more subtle, and significantly more important.  Grassroots conservatives have learned that they must work within the system to accomplish real reform.  The days of loud complaints but little action are history, as conservative activists now work to reorganize precincts, run for local offices, and learn policy issues in detail, making them formidable citizen leaders and constituents.  And the top conservative organizations all have focused goals with serious action plans in place to accomplish them.

Two larger-than-life issues in South Carolina took center stage at the convention.  A determined group of conservatives led by Greenville activist Diane Hardy contends that primary registration by party would prevent election perversions such as moderate Republican Lyndsey Graham’s narrow win over several conservative primary candidates.  Graham’s name, by the way, was roundly booed whenever uttered at the event.

Another policy issue that caught a lot of attention is the failure of the state to honestly implement its new law that struck down the Common Core standards.  A panel was assigned to write new state standards, but instead they merely copied the Common Core standards and gave it a new name.  An aggressive campaign is underway by Shari Few and her group, South Carolina Parents Involved in Education, to rewrite the standards.

South Carolina is an early primary state, a fact not lost on presidential hopefuls.  Dr. Ben Carson was soft-spoken, but his conservative convictions were rock-hard.  He admitted a lack of experience and expertise in both foreign and domestic affairs, promising to surround himself with smart people.  Senator Ted Cruz made a rock-star entrance and then machine-gunned his well-rehearsed talking points with precision and authority, if not much inspiration.  Cruz knows exactly what buttons to push.  Rick Santorum was sincere, but didn’t show much fire in the belly.  Donald Trump was . . . well, you know.  Arrogant and embarrassingly shallow.  But he was warmly received.

In conversation and informal straw polls, most of the attendees seemed to favor Scott Walker and Dr. Carson for president.

Nobody went home from this event feeling cheated.  I’m sure this group from South Carolina provides a good cross-section of the Tea Party nationwide.  And while the grassroots conservative movement has been consistent over the years in its values and aims, one can’t help but sense the changes underway.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideSha la la la la la,
Live for today!
And don’t worry, ’bout tomorrow, hey
Live for today!

Live for Today – the Grass Roots

 

Made in the USA – By Mexicans

mexican concrete crewMy wife and I are building a new home.  We are doing some of the work ourselves but the majority of the work is done by subcontractors, mostly hired through our general contractor.  Working on a major project like this brings many current political and economic issues from the big-picture level down to the up-close and personal level.

Today, as our driveway was being installed, I had quite a discussion with the owner/operator of our concrete finishing company.  Alex (not actual name) is a legal Mexican immigrant and has been doing business in the US for almost twenty years.  He went through channels, got a green card, and studied English for two years.  Alex pursued the American dream, and got it.  He has handled several segments of our construction project, and does top quality work at a fair price.  Working in the same space every day we got to know each other and today we spent some time discussing business and politics.

Alex’s business is doing well.  In fact, there is much more demand for his work than he can fulfill.  He would like to hire more employees and expand his business, but he can’t see a way to do it and still maintain quality.  As a retired corporate manager and business owner, I offered some growth strategies and personnel practices that have worked for me.  But his circumstances are quite different than mine were.  You see, all of his employees are (probably) illegal Mexican immigrants.

In fact, almost all of the residential construction work in the Carolinas is being performed by illegal Mexican immigrants.

Why?  Have Mexican immigrants taken all of the construction jobs because they will work for lower wages than American tradesmen?  Are American men now too lazy or pampered to take on the difficult, physical work required in the construction trades?  Have our schools convinced every American student that anyone who doesn’t pursue a college degree and a desk job is a failure?  Did our government over-regulate our traditional construction businesses into extinction, so that only “under-the-radar” groups of illegal immigrants can function at a feasible cost?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

But there’s more to it than that.  I talked with another general contractor today who was interested in hiring Alex and his crew for some of his projects, only to learn they are over-booked.  “It’s a shame,” he said.  “Most of the (American) subcontractors went broke during the housing bust five years ago, and they aren’t coming back.”

Alex and many entrepreneurial Mexicans like him are able to seize the market opportunities because they are connected to the available army of illegal Mexican immigrant workers.  Alex can find them, hire them, manage them, communicate with them, and help them with the considerable personal challenges they face working in the shadows of American life.   Still, his business growth is limited because he employs these men.  “My business can’t grow,” he said.  “None of my workers can advance to be managers because they don’t even try to learn to speak English.”  He would employ English-speaking American construction workers, but there just aren’t any.  It’s a very complex business model.

I had heard that Latinos are being barraged with liberal propaganda, painting conservatives, Republicans and especially Tea Party guys as hateful monsters to be avoided and feared.  So I made it a point to tell my new Mexican friend Alex that I am a conservative.  Tea Party, even.

Alex winced.  “I’m not a monster,” I said.  “I’m not a racist and a hater.  You know me.  You can’t believe the stuff you hear in the media.”

“Well, the conservatives don’t want to allow any immigration,” he said.

“Not true,” I countered.  “We want LEGAL immigration for people who can bring value to our country.  What we don’t want is  dangerous, uncontrolled borders, or slackers coming here to take advantage of taxpayer-funded benefits.   And we DO want our legal immigrants to assimilate – to become patriotic, law-abiding, productive Americans, not Mexicans who just happen to live in the US.”

Like you, Alex.  Without you, and men like you, there would be no new homes under construction in my neighborhood right now.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Save me from this prison, Lord, help me get away
‘Cause only You can save me now from this misery
‘Cause I’ve been lost in my own place
And I’m getting’ weary, how far is Heaven?
And I know I need to change my ways of livin’
How far is Heaven?
My favorite Mexican band – Los Lonely Boys! (this song is also on my set list)

Don’t Back Down, Mississippi

mississippi-welcome-sign-close-up-1Mississippi Conservatives, I urge you – DO NOT VOTE FOR THAD COCHRAN in the general election.

At some point we have to take a stand.  We have been patient.  We have been loyal.  We have held our noses and voted for weak, establishment Republicans only in the hope that they might be marginally better than the Democrat opponent.

We have been threatened and bullied and cajoled to “take one for the good of the party.”  The establishment Republicans have counted on hard work, funds, and votes from conservatives for a long, long time.  They think we will have to vote for them no matter how many times they spit on us.

No more!

Over the last few election cycles the establishment Republicans have withheld funds from conservative candidates – case in point:  the GOP failed to support Tea Party favorite Ken Cuccinelli in the Virginia governor’s race, handing a narrow victory to unqualified, ethically-challenged and beatable Democrat Terry McAuliffe.  It gets worse.

The insider Republicans have consistently bad-mouthed the Tea Party movement, the last and only hope for honesty in government and economic survival for the nation.  They have pulled out all the stops to harm conservatives in every way possible.  It still gets worse.

Now the establishment Republicans have signed a pact with the devil.  They took out Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel by playing the race card to entice low-information Democrats to vote for insider Thad Cochran in the Republican primary runoff election for Cochran’s US Senate seat.  This is the last straw.

“It’s too early right now to get those raw emotions out of the way,” McDaniel told Hannity. “… They used everything from the race card to food stamps to saying I would shut down public education. … I’ve fought for this (Republican Party) all my life, but they abandoned us, made fun of us and ridiculed us and brought in 35,000 Democrats to beat us.” — the Clarion Ledger, ‘McDaniel Still Pondering Challenge’, 6/25/14

For those who missed it, let me break it down.  Republicans leaders reached out to Democrats – to defeat a sharp, young, conservative Republican – to protect a weak, squishy, entrenched old Republican –  by claiming the Tea Party candidate is a racist –  like all Tea Party supporters – and that he wants to prevent them from voting [somehow].

They (Haley Barbour’s Super PAC) robo-called black Democrats with race-baiting lies.

 

They printed race-baiting flyers. 

Can you vote for a man – and a party – that will resort to these tactics against their own fellow Republicans?  If you do, you are perpetuating and encouraging such despicable acts.  We should no more vote for a Republican liar and race-baiter than a Democrat liar and race-baiter.

And black voters, why don’t you join us!  We in the Tea Party movement know how you feel – the politicians we have supported have disrespected us and only made things worse, not better.   We want the same things you do – an economic future for our children, good jobs and a government that is functional and solvent.  One that works FOR us, instead of the other way around.  Stop falling for all the lies!  You are better than that!

Mississippi, please stand your ground.  You will be blamed by the establishment for all kinds of terrible things, but don’t back down.  We can’t let them get away with this – again!  Don’t vote for Cochran.

Tom Balek, Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideHey baby!  There ain’t no easy way out.
Hey yeah!  Stand my ground.
And I won’t back down.

Well I know what’s right, I got just one light.
In a world that keeps on pushin’ me around,
I will stand my ground.  And I won’t back down.

I Won’t Back Down – Tom Petty
with Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Jeff Lynn and Mike Campbell

 

 

Meet Virginia! Eric Cantor Points the Way for Weak Republicans

eric-cantorRICHMOND, Va. (AP) — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was defeated Tuesday by a little-known economics professor in Virginia’s Republican primary, a stunning upset and major victory for the tea party.

Virginia voters showed their INTELLIGENCE tonight as they rejected incumbent house majority leader Eric Cantor’s re-election bid.

Cantor epitomized the Republican incumbent inside-the-beltway-I-got-mine-now-I-am-going-to-hold-on-to-my-perks fraternity.  The Republican leadership (Boehner-Cantor-McConnell) have insisted on capitulating to the alpha-male Democrats on Capitol Hill, in abject defiance of their grass-roots conservative base.  They have repeatedly “assumed the position”, thinking it would protect their cocktail-party invitations with the DC elites and the flow of funds to their executive PACs.

Wrong.  Fail.

This is nothing less than a stunning repudiation of amnesty – deficit spending – and capitulation to an overreaching imperial Obama administration.

Congrats to the “political novice with little money” Dave Brat.

So do ya still think the Tea Party is DEAD?!!  Meet Virginia!

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right SideShe never compromises, loves babies and surprises
Wears high heels when she exercises
Ain’t that beautiful
Meet Virginia

 

 

 

Same – Same – Same – DIFFERENT (Lindsey Graham)

same vs different Flashback to Kindergarten.  One of the the first things we had to learn was how to decide which things are the same and which are different.  It builds the foundation for organizing our knowledge.

At first blush, South Carolina politics is pretty straightforward.  Governor: Nikki Haley, Republican.  Senators: Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, Republicans.  Representatives: Sanford, Wilson, Duncan, Gowdy, Mulvaney, Rice – all Republicans.  Jim Clyburn, Democrat.

Here is your political kindergarten worksheet for this morning:  Which of these South Carolina politicians is different?

Obviously, lone Democrat Jim Clyburn is sitting by himself at the South Carolina lunch table.  But many South Carolina conservatives argue that another one of their elected officials is different.

This week the Charleston Republicans executive committee voted to censure Senator Lindsey Graham – again – for being too liberal, just ahead of the upcoming June 10 South Carolina primary.  Four years ago he was unanimously censured by the same group.

Graham’s supporters point to his steadfast pursuit of Benghazi-Gate justice and his opposition to abortion.  His critics claim he and his good friend John McCain are big-government “insiders” who too often appease the ruling Democrats instead of standing firm on conservative principles.

Those who seek to unseat Graham face an uphill battle.  Six primary challengers are lined up against him, all solidly positioned to his right.  Lee Bright appears to lead the pack currently, but the key to the election is whether the rivals can, as a group, win 51% of the votes and force a runoff election.  If not, Graham will cruise to victory and a certain return to his DC post.

Graham will not debate his opponents until a few days before the election, and will likely not spend much of his reportedly huge political war chest, evidence of (according to critics) his insider connections.

There is one factor that may be Graham’s undoing: backlash to his imperious penchant for poking Tea Party conservatives in the eye:

“Everything I’m doing now in terms of talking about climate, talking about immigration, talking about Gitmo is completely opposite of where the Tea Party movement’s at,” Graham said.   On four occasions, Graham met with Tea Party groups. The first, in his Senate office, was “very, very contentious.”

“The problem with the Tea Party, I think it’s just unsustainable because they can never come up with a coherent vision for governing the country. It will die out.”

– quoted from NY Times interview

Conservatives can’t help but compare Graham to their governor, their other senator, and their Republican congressmen, all supporters of the Tea Party principles:  constitutionally limited government, free market economics, and fiscal responsibility.  If Lindsey Graham lines up on the opposite side of these convictions, I would have to mark him on my worksheet as DIFFERENT.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

 

You see ’em drop like flies from the bright sunny skies
They come knocking at your door with this look in their eyes
You’ve got one good trick and you’re hanging on
You’re not the same!

Not the Same – Ben Folds

 

 

Question About the Tea Party? So Call Me, Maybe?!

HatePhoneMontana Headlines: 

Huffington Post:  “Tea Party Candidate Gets Turned Away By the (Montana) GOP For Spreading Racist Views”

Great Falls Tribune:  “Tea Party Candidates Challenging Democrats In Eight (Montana) Legislative Primaries”

the Raw Story:  “Muppet-Hater Leads Wave of Tea Party ‘Extremists’ Running As Democrats in Montana”

One minute we hear “the Tea Party is Dead”.  The next minute, every other hopeful in the upcoming primaries is labeled a “Tea Party Candidate”.  Which is accurate?

In Montana, it’s neither.  The Montana Tea Party Coalition is an active and politically robust group made up of local Tea Party leaders from across the state.  And it does not endorse candidates or parties.  What’s more, neither the Montana Tea Party Coalition nor any of its affiliate members have ever heard, seen, or met these so-called “Tea Party Candidates”.

Last week Montana newspapers reported two stories with the words “Tea Party Candidate” in the headline.

The Great Falls Tribune broke the news, on a tip from an anonymous flame-throwing far-left blogger, that a number of “apparent Tea Party conservatives filed to run against bona fide Democrats in the June 3 primary.”  Who determined that these people are “Tea Party” candidates? The candidates themselves did not claim to belong to any Tea Party.  According to the Montana Tea Party Coalition, none of the eight candidates identified in the article are members of a coalition affiliate.

And regardless whether they are actual Tea Party members, what makes them less “bona fide” than the other candidates?  The Tea Party believes in smaller governments, fiscal responsibility, and constitutional freedoms.  We only want to preserve the American Dream – more good jobs, no crushing debt, and rising standards of living – for our children and grandchildren.  Do “bona fide” Democrats oppose these principles?

Why didn’t the Great Falls Tribune talk to any of the easily-accessible Tea Party organizations in Montana – perhaps the very visible and active Great Falls Tea Party Patriots right in their hometown?

Then the Billings Gazette and other state and national media gloated, “GOP congressional candidate Drew Turiano has been branded a racist by the Yellowstone County Republican Party and turned away from the group’s key political event.”  Most of the headlines called Turiano the “Tea Party Candidate”.  Again, the Montana Tea Party Coalition maintains that nobody in their ranks has ever had contact with Turiano.

I called Drew Turiano today and asked him if he is a member of any Tea Party affiliate.  “Well, no,” he said.  “I just believe in most of the Tea Party principles.”  Does that qualify him to be called the “Tea Party Candidate” in the race for the critically important, and only, US House seat from Montana?  I looked at Turiano’s website today and found no mention of Tea Party other than the headlines of the linked news stories.  Chuck Johnson, Capitol Bureau Chief for Lee Newspapers, told me that he recalled Turiano identifying with the Tea Party in an earlier interview.   But again, no one in the media took the initiative to check in with the real Tea Party.

Meanwhile, the extreme left-wing blogs and the mainstream media can’t wait to find something – anything – about these candidates that they can use to vilify the Tea Party.  Especially tasty are charges of racism in the Tea Party, a flat-out fabrication.  Turiano was called a racist because he believes illegal immigrants are illegal and should be returned to their home countries.  He made the mistake of referring to the Eisenhower-era deportation program called “Operation Wetback”  – named by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service, not Turiano.   And the Tea Party is guilty of racism by association.  Both charges – racism and association with Turiano – are false, but that doesn’t stop the left or the media.  The Montana GOP didn’t exactly hit this one out of the park either.

So, to set the record straight – there are ZERO “Tea Party Candidates” in Montana.  And please guys, next time you have an issue or a question about the Tea Party, would you just call us and ask?

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy
But here’s my number, so call me, maybe
It’s hard to look right at you baby
But here’s my number, so call me, maybe!

Run! It’s Those Scary, Racist Tea Party People!

image courtesy of SodaHead.com

image courtesy of SodaHead.com

Bigotry and disinformation are alive and well in the USA.

In Washington, DC for a Tea Party Patriots leadership conference, my wife and I entered our hotel elevator and joined three black women, expecting a friendly conversation with some locals.  Their eyes dropped to the prominent “Tea Party” ID badges we wore, and the reaction was stunning.

The youngest of them jumped back against the wall, her eyes wide with palpable fear.  The other two also shrank back, hands over mouths, mumbling obvious displeasure.  It was as if Count Dracula himself had appeared before them.

“Hmmph.  Tea Party, huh?  Mmm, mmm, mmm, not good, not good . . . ,” the older ladies lamented.

We were stunned speechless.  Before we could come up with a response, the door opened at our floor and the younger one jumped past us to the hallway.  We followed.

“You people are trying to take my job away from me!” she shouted over her shoulder, rushing away from us as quickly as possible.

My wife and I looked at each other, wondering what her job is, why we would want to “take it” from her, and what we would do with it if we got it.  As the young lady fumbled for the key to her room, I blurted out, “Wow, if you are afraid of Tea Party grandmas and grandpas, you need a new source of information!”  Her door slammed.

Back in our room we tried to make sense of what we had just seen and heard.  While race wasn’t mentioned, I’m very sure it played a role, because the left and the media have so successfully branded the Tea Party as racists.

My mind went back to the speakers we had just enjoyed at our Tea Party Patriots 5-year celebration event.  One was Sonnie Johnson of Breitbart News, a bright and beautiful young African-American woman who abandoned her prepared speech to talk instead about something that “hit her heart”.  Miss Johnson decried the federal government’s quest to replace God and religion with government dependency.  She passionately prayed for the success of the Tea Party and America.

I remembered the fiery words of Anita Moncrief, the hard-nosed little African-American woman who, as an ACORN official, finally had to blow the whistle on the corruption that oozed between that organization and the Democrat party during the Obama campaign.  “That was not helping people,” she cried.  “I got tired of the victimhood and the race card.”  She now works with True the Vote.

K Carl Smith, black Tea Party leader, spoke eloquently of Frederick Douglas‘ respect for the constitution and belief in limited government.  US Representative Raul Labrador joked about his status as a “Puerto Rican Mormon Tea Party Member”.  George Rodriquez, Mexican-American radio host and president of the San Antonio Tea Party, observed that every family wants the same opportunities for prosperity, regardless of race.

These people, and so many like them, not only know the Tea Party, they ARE the Tea Party.  Which raises the question: Would the black ladies in the elevator have feared Sonnie if she had entered the elevator instead of my wife and I?

The Tea Party Patriots want to ensure that the children and grandchildren of all Americans have a chance to enjoy the freedoms and economic opportunities that we did.  Yet the hateful left and the mainstream media have demonized us so successfully that under-informed black women fear for their safety in the presence of white grandparents wearing Tea Party badges.

It’s sad.  And it has to stop.

Tom Balek – Rockin’ On the Right Side

Rockin' On the Right Side

We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds